GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Calvin women's basketball team claimed a 56-36 home victory over Martin Luther College on Friday evening.
Calvin improves to 3-3 on the season with the win, while Martin Luther falls to 1-5. After dropping the first three games of the season, the Knights picked up a pair of victories last weekend at the Carleton College Town Classic, defeating St. Olaf and host Carleton, to claim the tournament championship.
Martin Luther, also known as the Knights, is a member of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC). Friday evening's matchup marked the second-ever meeting between the two teams in women's basketball.
Calvin took an early lead and controlled the remainder of the contest.
Martin Luther's leading scorer Grace Schultz hit a triple to put the visiting team on the board first. Just over three minutes into the game, Calvin junior Rachel Warners (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) converted on a three-point play to even the score.
The teams exchanged points until Calvin called its first timeout with the score tied at eight. Out of the break, Calvin used six straight points to gain a 14-8 advantage by the end of the first quarter.
Calvin built its lead to nine, holding Martin Luther scoreless for just over five minutes before the visiting Knights made back-to-back layups to bring the score to 17-12. After points on both sides, Calvin used a 7-2 run to take a double-digit lead. Martin Luther held Calvin scoreless for the final two and a half minutes before halftime, but the Maroon and Gold headed into the locker room with a 29-20 lead.
Neither team scored for the first four minutes of a low-scoring third quarter. Calvin freshman Caitlyn Demaree (St. Louis, Mo./Principia) broke the scoreless spell, knocking down a triple to put Calvin up 32-20.
Back-to-back buckets by seniors Ali Spayde (Lewis Center, Ohio/Worthington Christian) and Bre Luurtsema (Holland, Mich./Holland Christian) widened Calvin's lead to 13 with three and a half minutes left in the quarter. Martin Luther answered with two points of its own, and Calvin headed into the final quarter with a 37-26 lead.
The Maroon and Gold found their groove in the fourth quarter, claiming the first seven points. Sophomore Kara Minderhoud (Grand Rapids, Mich./Covenant Christian) fed Spayde to spark the Knights' offense. Luurtsema added three points, capitalizing on an and-one play, and Spayde added another bucket to complete the run. With just over eight minutes remaining, Calvin held a commanding 44-26 lead.
Martin Luther narrowed the deficit to 13 points, but the visitors' foul trouble put Calvin at the free throw line to earn a 50-33 lead with just under four minutes left on the clock.
Calvin outscored Martin Luther 6-2 in the final two minutes of play to roll to a 20-point victory.
Spayde, recently named MIAA Player of the Week, led all players with 20 points. Spayde has posted 20 or more points in all six of Calvin's games this season. Luurtsema recorded a double-double, finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Warners had a solid game, adding nine points, eight rebounds and six blocks.
Calvin is back in action next Wednesday when it opens its conference season against Saint Mary's. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.